Best-Value Buys

Best-Value Buys

Instead of awarding contracts solely on the basis of low price, agencies in recent years have considered other factors such as past performance, management capabilities and technical superiority. Such "best-value" source selections, which were heartily endorsed by the National Performance Review, are reserved for procurements of complex systems for which there are no defined solutions-not for straight commodity buys.

"Best-value procurements that rely on functional specifications instead of detailed task descriptions or equipment specifications give federal agencies the opportunity to buy innovative solutions," says Olga Grkavac, acting president of the Information Technology Association of America. Many of the federal best-value procurements to date have been for computers and telecommunications systems and services.

The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act requires agencies to disclose all significant factors by which they select offerors. They are also allowed to apply greater weight to factors other than cost, as long as they disclose the degree to which they are doing so. RFPs can state that certain factors will be considered "significantly more important" or "approximately equal in importance" to other factors.

Another provision allows civilian agencies to award contracts to bidders other than the lowest one without having to have discussions with offerors.

Some critics charge that best-value procurements are difficult to evaluate and force agencies to use unreasonable amounts of discretion. Government executives must weigh benefits and decide which factors are more important. "The government should have the means to ensure that it gets the greatest value for the dollar, but [that type of] buying requires that evaluation criteria be clear and that procurement personnel be properly trained," says David Cooper, director of Acquisition Policy, Technology and Competitiveness issues at GAO's National Security and International Affairs division.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.